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even when the horses went at a trot he kept up with us with ease. After some time he led us
into very rough country, and often he made a sign to me to go ahead, and then he took a short
cut, and later I found him sitting somewhere far ahead, chewing coca whilst waiting for us.
We had crossed some giddy and wobbly hanging bridges before, but here we came to the
worst I had ever seen or ever wish to see again. Even without horses the crossing of such
bridges is apt to make anybody feel cold ripples running down the back, and, in fact, many
river the bridge looked like a long, thin hammock swung high up from one rock to another.
laid crosswise and covered with some coarse fibre matting to give a foothold and to prevent
slipping that would inevitably prove fatal. The width of this extraordinary piece of engineer-
ing was no more than four feet, and its length must have been roughly one hundred and fifty
yards. In the middle the thing sagged down like a slack rope.
I went to examine it closely, and the very sight of it made me feel giddy, and the thought
of what might easily happen produced a feeling in my stomach as if I had swallowed a block
of ice. For a while I hesitated, and then I decided to chance it, for there was no other altern-
ative but to return to Ayacucho and there wait for the dry season. I unsaddled the horses, and
giving the Indian the leadline I made signs to him to go ahead with Mancha first. Knowing
the horse well, I caught him by the tail and walked behind talking to him to keep him quiet.
When we stepped on the bridge he hesitated for a moment, then he sniffed the matting with
suspicion, and after examining the strange surroundings he listened to me and cautiously ad-
vanced. As we approached the deep sag in the middle, the bridge began to sway horribly, and
for a moment I was afraid the horse would try to turn back, which would have been the end
of him; but no, he had merely stopped to wait until the swinging motion was less, and then he
moved on again. I was nearly choking with excitement, but kept on talking to him and patting
his haunches, an attention of which he was very fond. Once we started upwards after having
of the wires on the sides to keep my balance. Gato, when his turn came, seeing his companion
on the other side, gave less trouble and crossed over as steadily as if he were walking along a
trail. Once the horses were safely on the other side we carried over the packs and saddles, and
when we came to an Indian hut where chicha and other native beverages were sold we had
an extra long drink to celebrate our successful crossing, whilst the horses quietly grazed as if
they had accomplished nothing out of the way.
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